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Stabilimento Tipografico “Pliniana”

A machine mainly used to compose lines of lead characters for print, primarily for newspapers and magazines. It allows you to create a line faster than the monotype but, at the same time, makes the process of correction more complicated should there be any printing errors. Linotypes are easy to use in transactions where it is necessary to move an entire section of text on a page.

The linotype was invented by the clock maker Ottmar Mergenthaler (1854-1899), a German who had emigrated to the United States in 1872. His invention revolutionised the printing world, allowing you to compose the mobile characters in one unique page in a way which was much simpler and faster than what had been possible until then. In 1886 he presented his invention to the New York Tribune: from that moment linotype experienced great success and arrived in England in 1890 and Italy in 1899.

Linotype requires just one operator on the job, sat at the keyboard, in a similar way to a typewriter. Pressing the keys, the lino typist brings the stock masters down the respective small channel to a descending tape, on which they are brought down one after the other and brought into a composing space, that you can find on the left of the typist. Between each word, spaces that the operator creates are inserted, via a key that he brings down from the appropriate box on the left of the stock. The line composed is transferred in a mechanical way in front of the shape that needs to moulded, behind which a piston presses on the inside of the mould the liquid lead that, quickly setting, forms the bar imprinted with all the letters of the line. The liquified lead is located on the left hand side of the machine: a mercury regulator maintains a constant temperature and it is necessary to turn the furnace heater on at least an hour and a half before using the machine. In the meantime, the composing space, remaining free, goes back to its position, so that the operator can continue his typist work. From evidence we know that a linotypist at Pliniana was capable of carrying out 5500 key strokes an hour, with a 6% error allowance.

The Linotype of the Stabilimento Tipografico “Pliniana” was purchased in 1992 and came from the Officine Menta in Milan.